Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999)
Losing its Mojo
Let's hop on the good foot and do the bad thing - Austin
When Mike Myers gave us "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery" it was genuinely good fun, the whole humour of spoofing James Bond with the great characters which Myers created did bring a smile to your face because they were new and different. And that is the problem which bugs the first sequel "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me" because that burst of originality can not be repeated, we may get some new characters but that initial moment of fun as we enter the crazy world of Austin Powers and Dr. Evil cannot be recreated. As such "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me" is again amusing but does end up feeling like an inferior sequel, repeating stuff we had already watched and trying desperately to deliver something funny but often never getting close. Having said that the irony is that when I first watched "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me" I found it more amusing than I do now which I guess means I've grown up and the abundance of juvenile gags don't seem as funny as I remembered them.
Dr. Evil (Mike Myers - So I Married an Axe Murderer) has returned and used a Time machine to travel back to the 1960s where his henchman Fat Bastard (Mike Myers) steals Austin's (Mike Myers) mojo from the cryogenically frozen version of himself. It has dire consequences for Austin in the present as without his Mojo he's not the sex god he thinks he is. Sent back to the past to deal with Dr. Evil and get his Mojo back he hooks up with CIA agent Felicity Shagwell (Heather Graham - Lost in Space) and comes to learn that Dr. Evil along with his clone Mini-Me (Verne Troyer) are planning to put a laser on the moon to hold America to ransom.
One of the really big issues I have with "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me" is that it more than ever feels like a movie of set pieces, gags created in the writing room which were thrown in because they knew that they were struggling for a storyline. And that feels wrong because whilst we do have the story which sees Austin's Mojo being stolen from the cryogenically frozen version of himself and then Dr. Evil threatening world destruction it is in fact enough. It may be just a rehash of Austin going after Dr. Evil but it is a reasonable basis for a movie which should be trying to poke fun at James Bond style spy movies.
As such whilst there is some clever humour which shows up such as the clever montage of people observing what Dr. Evil's rocket looks like a giant ..... there are plenty of set pieces which almost feel out of place. The whole disco scene when Austin heads back to the 60s is both dumb and dull and whilst they were trying to make it a returning joke the humour with Mustafa is just as weak. Then there is the musical scene with Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach which on one hand is a beautiful but also feels just like padding. And I suppose that is the issue as there are so many little scenes which get thrown in which feel like padding, thrown in to make the slim storyline last 95 minutes and provide a few laughs.
Now it would be fair to say that where as the first time around much of the humour was built around spoofing Bond and Austin's sexual libido this time around much of the humour is simply of the juvenile variety. We meet Fat Bastard a purposefully vulgar creation who is so crude and disgusting that the laughs come from cringing more than anything. It is juvenile and where I one found it funny I now find it simply stupid. And it is a shame because where you have the good fun of Rob Lowe imitating Robert Wagner as the younger version of Number Two you then get something completely stupid and not that funny.
As for the acting well it's a continuation of the first movie, Mike Myers is a barrel of energy as he bounds around the movie in various roles and the returning faces such as Michael York as Basil Exposition, Seth Green as Scott Evil and Mindy Sterling as Frau Farbissina continue to deliver laughs. And many of the new characters such as the brilliant Verne Troyer as Mini-Me and the already mentioned humorous performance from Rob Lowe as the younger version of Robert Wagner provide plenty of laughs. The only negative is Heather Graham who is super sexy as Felicity Shagwell but acts rather than over acts and to be honest the "Austin Powers" movies are all about over acting.
What this all boils down to is that "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me" is an entertaining sequel but not as entertaining as the first movie and now a decade after it was released not as funny as I remember it being. It does have some great comedy but it also feels like a series of gags with some thrown in because the writers laughed without caring whether it really fitted in or not.
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